The Ukraine affair is damning, all right – just not in the way you’re being told to think
Democrats say texts and transcripts involving US officials dealing with Ukraine prove President Donald Trump should be impeached. What they actually confirm, however, is the extent to which the US treats Ukraine as a vassal.
At the heart of the latest media firestorm are the text messages between US diplomats and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. House Democrats seeking to impeach Trump have already sent a subpoena to the White House seeking more documents, and their allies in the media have proclaimed the texts to be “damning.”
Much of the brouhaha centers on messages from Bill Taylor, charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Kiev, who is the only one to suggest the military aid to Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s meeting with Trump are being “conditioned” on investigations of Hunter Biden and Ukraine’s role in 2016 meddling in the US election.Also on rt.com Dems publish Trump administration officials’ texts in Ukrainegate impeachment frenzy (READ IN FULL)
In one of the exchanges with US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, dated September 9, Taylor spells out what would become the Democrats’ argument for impeachment:
As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
It's time Dems try to bring in Ambassador Bill Taylor.Taylor *twice* texts about a direct quid pro quo between military aid and Ukraine helping Trump rig our election.There's a *reason* Taylor thought there was a quid pro quo.Let's hear from him:https://t.co/NY8KRlYpb5— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) October 4, 2019
Sondland’s admonishment of Taylor – “I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” – is somehow being held up as an admission of wrongdoing, along with his request for a phone call instead of continued texts.
Just like that, all of a sudden, the controversy about the so-called “whistleblower” who may have colluded with House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-California) before filing his complaint – based on hearsay – is declared “irrelevant” and the texts are held up as the Holy Grail of impeachment proceedings.
At this point, whistleblower complaint is irrelevant. Transcript of Trump-Zelensky call and texts from Volker, Sondland et al released yesterday is all one needs to show clearly Trump misconduct .— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) October 4, 2019
It’s curious how the same treatment was not given a few months ago to the anti-Trump text messages of FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, when the entire media establishment twisted itself into pretzels to explain that when Strzok said “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president what he really meant, you see, was something totally innocuous and not sinister at all.
House Republicans have blasted the diplomatic texts as “cherry-picked” by the other party, and argued that the closed-doors testimony of Kurt Volker, former US special envoy to Ukraine who participated in the exchanges, painted a completely different picture.
Reading the transcript of Volker’s opening statement, obtained and published Friday by investigative reporter John Solomon and the Federalist, seems to back that claim. Volker testified he did not bring up the issue of a hold on military aid with the Ukrainians until late August, when it was first reported in the media – and long after the Trump-Zelensky phone call. Nor was he made aware of any reference to former VP Joe Biden or his son until the transcript of the call was released on September 25.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani “stressed that all he wanted to see was for Ukraine to investigate what happened in the past and apply its own laws,” Volker also explained.Also on rt.com Shot down? Testimony by Trump’s Ukraine envoy seems to skewer Democrats’ impeachment narrative
On the issue of holding up military aid, Volker admits he was conducting his own policy, in line with the consensus in Washington, rather than obeying the president who appointed him:
“I became aware of a hold on Congressional Notifications about proceeding with that assistance on July 18, 2019, and immediately tried to weigh in to reverse that position… I was confident that this position would indeed be reversed in the end, because the provision of such assistance was uniformly supported at State, Defense, NSC, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the expert community in Washington.”
Yet the most overlooked text in the batch is from Volker to Giuliani, dated August 9, asking for a phone call “to make sure I advise Z [Zelensky] correctly as to what he should be saying.”
To the impeachment-bent Democrats, what’s objectionable here is the substance of Volker’s instruction – namely, the alleged “election meddling” in investigating the Bidens (and Ukraine’s role in 2016, which they are eager never to mention). What should be objectionable is the fact that a US diplomat is stage-whispering to the freshly elected president of an ostensibly sovereign country. Not that it would be the first time.
Way back in April 2016, President Barack Obama argued that the US stood for the “principle… that nations like Ukraine have the right to choose their own destiny.” Left unsaid was that such choices would only be honored if they aligned with US beliefs and objectives – and subject to “color revolution” and regime change if not, which is just what happened in February 2014 in Kiev.
The fact that neither Democrats and Republicans are raising that issue with Volker’s testimony and the texts just goes to show that neither have a problem with the US acting like an empire, and Ukraine being its vassal. That is what is truly damning about all of this, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Nebojsa Malic, senior writer at RT
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.